Seasonal storms and flash floods

Posted on 10th Apr by Adam Peters − Category: News

A large number of Uganda’s slums are built on the flood plains around Kampala. For most of the year rain is no great threat to the residents of these communities, but when the rains do arrive, they can come frighteningly quickly and cause significant damage.

Over the weekend these storms hit much harder than usual and when we got to work on Monday we discovered that there were some situations that seriously needed help. As a charity we believe in long-term, sustainable change and so are careful when giving out immediate aid to make sure it is going to the people that it need it most, but we knew that in this instance some intervention was essential.

With poor foundations some houses simply fell down as the waters rushed past.

With poor foundations some houses simply fell down as the waters rushed past.

We were told stories of flood-waters rising as high as 3 feet, and parents clinging on to their children and watching as their possessions literally floated out of the door. Mama Rose of Banda slum had no bed, so her and her three children were asleep on a foam mattress on the floor. Despite the house being built a couple of feet higher than the ground outside, mama awoke to see her three-month old baby thrashing in the water, which had risen to around knee height!

On Tuesday a number of teams went to assess the worst of the damage and establish which families were in the most need. Approximately 40 houses in Katogo 2 slum had collapsed or were in need of tearing down due to water damage, and an estimated 70% of the houses in Banda suffered damage to their foundations. Here are a handful of images taken 48 hours after the floods had subsided showing how bad the effects of the flooding were.

Narrow streets caused the waters to rise above head height for some children, many of whom cannot swim.

Narrow streets caused the waters to rise above head height for some children, many of whom cannot swim. 

Navigating the slums after the waters had subsided can still be challenging even for the able bodied.

Navigating the slums after the waters have subsided can still be challenging even for the able bodied.

Once the damage was assessed and we had established which families had the greatest need, we decided what course of action we would take. Some team members went out to buy food, basins, soap, saucepans, blankets, mosquito nets and other simple items, while others prepared clothes packages to hand out to people who had lost their own in the flood-waters.

Team members preparing clothes packages to be taken out to families in need.

Team members preparing clothes packages to be taken out to families in need.

Food, clothing, blankets, soap and more ready to go.

Food, clothing, blankets, soap and more ready to go.

As well as giving out these gifts, a number team members headed out into the slums with hand tools to try and help as practically as possible. This involved anything from digging out channels for stagnant water to drain away, rebuilding foundations of houses or clearing mud and water from houses. There was so much need, but it was good to see how some of the community members came alongside us to help their neighbours and themselves. While these teams were helping practically, we also had others going and praying for people, encouraging them and educating people on sanitation and hygiene. We are very aware that after floods such as these, water-borne diseases can spread quickly and prove to be just as devastating, so good sanitation is very important.

Stopping water from sitting and becoming stagnant is very important in preventing water-born diseases.

Stopping water from sitting and becoming stagnant is very important in preventing water-borne diseases.

Every little helps - community members got involved to help the clean up effort.

Every little helps – community members got involved to help the clean up effort.

Through carefully assessing the areas of greatest need, we were able to target families and individuals who had been most affected by the rains and the floods in Katogo 2 and Banda. We gave out over 20 packages to grateful recipients, which has made a significant difference in their lives. As well as meeting their immediate needs, we have hopefully also helped to educate and prepare them for similar crises in the future.

It was great to see how a few simple items can make such a big difference to the lives of some families.

It was great to see how a few simple items can make such a big difference to the lives of some families.

Physical aid, education and healthcare = holistic change to many lives.

Physical aid, education and healthcare = holistic change to many lives.

To help support more of our emergency aid and long-term work with the slum communities, please consider donating to us.